Following the vote passing the revised version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) through the House of Representatives last Thursday, moderate Republicans are already publicly backtracking on some of the bills more excessive provisions, stressing that they aren't set in stone yet. While promising that public concerns will be reassessed when the Senate starts from scratch on its own draft of the bill, Republican Senator Susan Collins said defunding Planned Parenthood was "a mistake" in an interview with ABC's This Week on Sunday.
When host George Stephanopoulos asked Collins if she could still support a final bill that still denied Medicaid funding to the reproductive health care provider, Collins clarified that her end-goals involved considering the low-income patients who would be devastated by the loss of Planned Parenthood:
That is an important issue to me, because I don't think that low-income women should be denied their choice of health care providers, for family planning, cancer screenings, for well women care. It's not the only issue in this huge bill. But I certainly think it's not fair and it is a mistake to defund Planned Parenthood. It's one of many issues.
Currently, the newest version of the AHCA cuts Medicaid funding significantly and defunds Planned Parenthood.
Collins affirmed that she was against the original House bill, and maintained that she has "a lot of concerns" about the amended one that just passed — particularly without a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis of the "impact of coverage and costs." She also emphasized that the Senate would not be taking on the existing house bill but that they would instead be "starting from scratch."
When asked about Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards' concerns over the number of men working on the Senate's bill, Collins mentioned her own bill—the Patient Freedom Act of 2017—co-sponsored by Sen. Bill Cassidy, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, and Sen. Johnny Isakson.
This bill, Collins claimed, would keep the Affordable Care Act (ACA) "safeguards, the consumer protections, for people with preexisting conditions" while also being more attentive to the experiences of people in "more expensive, rural areas, as far as health care is concerned."
"We're going to draft our own bill. And I'm convinced that we're going to take the time to do it right," Collins said. " ... I think we will do so and that we will come up with a whole new fresh approach that solves the legitimate flaws that do exist with the ACA, where with have seen, in some markets, insurers is fleeing so people won't be able to buy subsidized insurance. But it will keep some of the benefits of the ACA."
Despite celebrations of the AHCA passing the house, it's obvious that there is still a long way to go before politicians are satisfied with an ACA replacement. Let's just hope they still remember the 2.5 million patients who rely on Planned Parenthood.